How Finance Bill Will Boost Earnings of Insurance Companies

December 24, 2019
insurance industry

By Adedapo Adesanya

When in October 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2020 Appropriation Bill to a joint session of the National Assembly, he also handed over a Finance Bill to the lawmakers.

The Finance Bill, which was recently passed by the parliament, generated mixed reactions because a part of the document said from January 2020, residents of the country will begin to pay a Value Added Tax (VAT) of 7.5 percent instead of the present 5 percent.

The reason for this, according to the federal government, was to help increase revenue so as to fund the 2020 budget of N10.6 trillion passed by the National Assembly over two weeks ago.

Apart from the issue of VAT, the bill also gave an exemption to some companies on the payment of Company Income Tax (CIT), which is 30 percent of profit before tax (PBT). From the new regulation, firms making less than N25 million in a year would be exempted from CIT.

Though President Buhari is yet to sign the Finance Bill into law, it is still generating reactions and an analysis done by Inspen Online showed that insurance firms operating in the country stand to gain a lot from this policy.

In fact, Chairman of the Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA), Mr Tope Smart, was quoted as informing Inspen Online that the signing of the bill will settle the issue of unwholesome tax burdens placed on insurers.

It was stated that with the Finance Bill, the tax burden, which had before now negatively impacted on their earnings, underwriters will begin to perform better and possibly create more value for their shareholders, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

According to the platform, the Finance Bill will make it possible for insurers to carry forward losses indefinitely in contrast to the current 4-year restriction in place. This is because a certain part of the new law made provisions to delete certain rules for insurance companies.

Also, included in the bill, life and non-life businesses would no longer be liable to special minimum tax provision and all necessarily incurred expenses will be tax deductible.

In addition, taxable investment income would be limited to income derived from the investment of shareholders’ funds. This seeks to clarify taxable income and limits it to income accruing to the insurance company as against income accruing to the insurance fund.

The bill, when signed into law, will ensure the fair taxation of insurance companies as some sections direct insurance companies to pay out their capital in the form of a minimum tax because they are almost always in a never-ending refund cycle with the tax authorities as a result of the Companies Income Tax Act (CITA), which is meant to amend and simplify controversial aspects in its policy, instead it has made it more unclear particularly for the insurance sector.

For instance, in Section 16(2)(a) of the CITA, the profits of a life business insurance company are calculated by taking management expenses, including commission, subject to subsection (8)(b) of the Act from gross income (investment income and revaluation surplus).

While for non-life businesses, section 16(1)(b) states that profits will be calculated for tax purposes by deducting the reinsurance cost and a reserve for unexpired risk (the premium corresponding to the time period remaining on an insurance policy), subject to subsection (8)(a) of the Act from a gross premium, interest and other income receivable in Nigeria.

But with the signing of the Finance Bill, this will be repealed.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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